Solar power has long been touted for its environmental impact. But now it has a new role: saving teachers' jobs.
School districts across the country are turning to solar power to cut their electricity costs. With the money they're saving, they are able to retain more teachers and programs in the face of budget cuts. As a bonus, some schools are using solar installations to teach kids about renewable energy.
More than 500 K-12 schools in 43 states have installed solar panels, many of them over the past three years as solar-power costs have fallen by more than one-third, according to estimates by the Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group in Washington, D.C., and GTM Research, a Greentech Media Inc. unit in Boston.
"It really is one of the fastest-growing markets and probably will have the most impact in our society, because it will put money back into more teachers and expand education," says Rhone Resch, president and chief executive officer of the Solar Energy Industries Association.